Monday, November 30, 2009

Annie Londonderry and her “Extraordinary Ride”

An Adventurous Woman Attempts to Ride a Bicycle Around the World!

Last year Peter Zheutlin, the author of the nonfiction book Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry’s Extraordinary Ride, came to the Leach Library to give an interesting lecture about his ancestor. Annie Kopchovsky, was “Annie Londonderry,” the first woman to go around the world on a bicycle. She was actually paid $100 by Londonderry Lithia Water, a very popular drink of the era, to carry their logo on her bicycle as she rode on her quest in the 1890s. Annie was a young mother, a wife, a Jewish immigrant, and a lone woman in a man’s world, which makes her story so very compelling.

I often imagine I’m a sleuth when I’m researching my genealogy. At his lecture Peter Zheutlin explained his detective skills for researching his own family tree. Annie’s ride was fascinating, but the whole story of how Zheutlin found out about his ancestress, and how the rest of the family actually hid her exploits was even more interesting. He had to dig through newspapers and magazines of the era to uncover his research for his book, since the rest of the family had hidden her story. In the 1890s, her adventure was their embarrassment! Any woman who would leave her husband and babies behind in Boston to go on such an adventure was not proper, and she had never ridden a bicycle before either!

Londonderry Lithia Water was bottled from a spring right near my backyard. The spring and its bottling plant have long ago disappeared, but around town antique ads can be seen on the walls at local restaurants such as “TJ’s” and “The Homestead.” Many people have Lithia water bottles on their windowsills, and I can find Londonderry Lithia Water postcards, ads and bottles for sale at local flea markets and on E-Bay. At the turn of the twentieth century, Londonderry Lithia Water was considered in vogue, and very medicinal. During prohibition it had a surge in popularity, until other bottled drinks such as Coca Cola and Pepsi became more popular. Imageability, a Londonderry company, sells reproductions of these amusing advertisements of Londonderry Lithia Water.

The town of Londonderry was also the base for Cohas Spring Water, produced by the Cohasaukee Corporation. The spring was on a large 100 acre parcel of land known as Cohas Park in the North West part of town, near today’s Manchester Airport.

Now, bottled water is again in vogue, and I’m sure that the aquifer my own well is served from is the same aquifer as the legendary Londonderry Lithia Water spring. Over 75% of Londonderry’s homes are served by well water, and it is quite tasty and refreshing. For years, the state of New Hampshire serviced a public water pump just off Route 102 near my neighborhood. Cars would be lined up on weekends as the public filled their water bottles and containers. For unknown reasons, this public water pump was removed several years ago when the rest area was closed.

I just saw on the internet that Amanda Costa of ProSeries 24 acquired the rights to the book Around the World on Two Wheels, and she will write the screenplay titled “An Extraordinary Ride.” (see “Screenwriting Buzz” at November 21, 2009) I have previously blogged about the movie “Barbarian Princess,” and the story of Ka’iulani of Hawaii. Unfortunately this historical movie about the popular Princess Ka’iulani lacks funding to be shown in my area, and I may never see it. Unfortunately, when local history is involved, these types of movies sometimes do not receive nationwide coverage at theaters. I hope that this film about Annie Londonderry receives the funding and advertising it deserves, so I won’t miss seeing it in local theaters!

For more information:

Around the World on Two Wheels, by Peter Zheutlin, Citadel Publishers, New York, 2007 – A history of Londonderry Lithia Water - the story of Peter Zheutlin’s book on his ancestress to buy reproductions of the Londonderry Lithia Water Ads the Story of Cohas Spring Water


To Cite/Link to this blog post:  Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Annie Londonderry and her “Extraordinary Ride”, Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 30, 2021, ( accessed [access date]). 

Sunday, November 29, 2009

PBS Genealogy Series “Faces of America”

Genetic Genealogy TV Series by Dr. Henry Louis Gates

Mario Batali's DNA?

On November 17, 2009 Professor Henry Louis Gates of Harvard was at the New England Historic Genealogical Society Library in Boston to film scenes for his newest project, “Faces of America.” It is a series for PBS to air beginning on February 10, 2010, featuring DNA testing and genealogical research for several celebrities. This seems to be similar to the British TV series “Who Do You Think You Are?” which is also scheduled for an American version on NBC for 2010. Dr. Gates previously hosted a PBS special “African American Lives” which focused on using DNA to help trace the heritage of Americans with roots in Africa.

According to the chatter on the internet and other blogs, “Faces of America” is a four part series hosted and co-produced by Dr. Gates. Again, he will use DNA and genealogy, this time to research well-known Americans of different races and ethnicities. Some of the celebrities include chef Mario Batali, comedian Stephen Colbert, cellist Yo Yo Ma, and actress Meryl Streep. I have posted the YouTube link for the preview below, and it is very moving to see the reactions on their faces as Dr. Gates shows them previously unknown branches of their family trees. It’s nice to know that the high and mighty react the same way as we peons when we find a fun fact in our genealogy!

Now I can’t wait to see this!

Press release from PBS

Photos of Dr. Gates at NEHGS at

A preview available on YouTube can be seen at:

Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Big Appetite, He must have loved Thanksgiving!

My mom found this little news clipping amongst her mother’s things. We finally figured out that the main character in the little story was her great grandmother’s brother. John Edwin Healey worked in the family business, Hoogerzeil Express Company. This was a Beverly, Massachusetts trucking and moving business started in the days before motorized vehicles. In the 1949 article it says he just celebrated his 92nd birthday, but I found him in the 1951 Beverly City Directory. He outlived two wives. For whatever reason, this side of the family is very long living. My grandmother, his niece, lived to be 96.

According to Wikipedia, “The American Weekly” magazine was published between1896 until 1966 as a newspaper supplement. It was published by Hearst, which surprised me because my great uncle was the COO of Forbes publishing in Chelsea, Massachusetts. You never know what you can learn from a little news clipping!

Article in the "American Weekly" newspaper, 4 December 1949
"Never Goes to Bed....Because Sleep is 'Dangerous' "

When John E. Healey of Beverly, Mass sprang out of bed in severe pain one night in early 1919, he vowed he would never go back to bed again. He was certain that the persistent nightly cramps in his legs were caused by reclining on his mattress. In the 30 years since that decision, Healy has never broken his promise, and he has never had another cramp. He sleeps three hours each night. He wraps a blanket about him and sits in his rocking chair. At first his wife, Gertrude, was alarmed. "You'll dig an early grave for yourself,” she warned.

"Most people relax themselves into early graves,” he scoffed. "I never felt better than after sleeping in a chair for only 180 minutes. When I sleep too long I feel exhausted." Healey seems to have proved his point. Not only has he outlived his wife (she died three years ago) but he's passed his 92nd birthday in hale and hearty fashion. He still manages the trucking firm he has owned since 1908, and does all the bookkeeping. He is the town dog constable and is a member of half a dozen lodges and clubs.

"When I have a lot of bookkeeping to do after working all day, I sit in my rocking chair, loosen my belt for 30 minutes and smoke a cigar," says Healey. "Then I'm ready to go all night."

"I got out of the habit of getting tired. That's why I'm so healthy."

Recently Healey bought three truckloads of wood and chopped it into kindling, single-handed, in three days. He does most of his strenuous work when the temperature is in the eighties. "It drives me crazy to see Dad chopping wood when it's so hot,” complained his son, Joe. "Once it was so hot that I could not work, yet Dad was chopping away. I was sitting on the front porch reading and people would come by and see Dad chopping, and they'd look at me reproachfully. I didn't try to explain. Who would believe it?"

Healey consumes two and a half pots of coffee and smoke 10 cigars a day. Usually he walks five to eight miles a day for "exercise." As for appetite - Healy makes the rest of his family look like finicky canaries. "Went on an outing the other day," he said. "Ate two bowls of clam chowder, four frankforts, a plate of spaghetti and six ears of corn. Three hours later, I felt hungry again."

For years people have been warning Healey to slow down and to go to bed nights. "Everyone who has given me advice about changing my ways, I've gone to their funerals," he says soberly. He doesn't drink because he doesn't like the taste of liquor. "If I liked the stuff I'd drink it by the barrel. I don't believe you get healthy by avoiding things. All you need to do is work hard, and stay out of bed. Sleep is a dangerous thing."

1895 Beverly City Directory
Healey, John E., shoecutter, b. 43 Bartlett
Matilda, widow of Edwin, b. 43 Bartlett

1900 Federal Census, Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts
enumerated in the household of Peter Hoogerzeil
Healey, John, brother in law, b. Mar 1857, age 43, divorced, b. MA, father b. Canada, mother b. Canada, shoe cutter,

1910 Federal Census, Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts
Ward 3, District 271 BEVERLY, ESSEX, Massachusetts
Healey, John, lodger, age 53, b. MA, father b. Can, mother b. Can, foreman, shoe factory

1911 Beverly City Directory
Hoogerzeil's Express, John E. Healey, propr., 43 Bartlett

1920 Federal Census, Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts in February 1920
Enumeration District #16, sheet 16
#45 Bartlett Street
Healey, John, head, age 62, proprietor, express business
Lizzie G., wife, age 45,
Edwin, age 9
Ruth, age 8

1924 Beverly City Directory
Healey, John E., (L. Gertrude) (Hoogerzeil's Express), 7 Back, 45 Bartlett

1930 Federal Census, Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts
Enumeration District #17,
#45 Bartlett Street,
Healey, John, head, own home, $5000, radio, age 73, age 52 at marriage, Expressman, Express Company,
Belle G., wife, age 56, age 35 at marriage,
Joseph E., son, age 19, single, chauffeur
Ruth E., daughter, age 17, single, sales lady, variety store
Woodbury, Thomas E., uncle, age 82, retired

1951 Beverly City Directory
Hoogerzeil's Express, (John E. Healy propr.) local and long distance moving, Cottage Lane


John Edwin Healey, son of Joseph Edwin Healey and Matilda Weston, born on 8 March 1857 in Beverly, Massachusetts, died after 1951; married first on 10 April 1878 in Beverly to Mary Olive Hodge, born 12 September 1858 in Johnson, Maine; married second to Lizzie Gertrude Woodbury in 1909 in Beverly, born on 17 September 1874, daughter of John Edward Woodbury and Mary E. Elliott.

1. Cora Belle Healey, born 31 October 1878 in Beverly
2. Joseph Edwin Healey, born 9 October 1910 in Beverly
3. Ruth E. Healey, born about 1913

Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Other Mayflowers, Voyage 7

From Cape Code to Nova Scotia to Beverly, Massachusetts
Last in my "Other Mayflowers" series for Thanksgiving week.

My ancestor Joseph Edwin Healey arrived in Massachusetts from Nova Scotia sometime between his marriage in 1848 and the birth of his first child in Beverly, in 1852. I’m not sure if he arrived on a boat, but being a mariner, he probably sailed to his new home with his new bride. He is listed as a sailor or mariner on his children’s birth records in Beverly, and as a fisherman on the 1860 Federal Census records.

His wife was Matilda Weston, also born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Her father was Zadoc Weston, a direct descendant of Edmund Weston of Duxbury, Massachusetts, who was apprenticed to John Winslow. There was much intermarriage between the Westons and Mayflower families. It is from this side of the family that I gained seven Mayflower ancestors. These families removed to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia as part of the Planter Movement. They received free land upon the removal of the French Protestants in the wake of the French and Indian War. In the Old Cemetery at Chebogue Town Point, near Yarmouth, I found the gravestones of these families.

The Plymouth County and Cape Cod farmers who removed to Nova Scotia received land for farming, but it must have been a very rough existence, because within two or three generations, my lineage came back to Massachusetts. Several years ago we took a family vacation to Nova Scotia, and I was able to visit the towns, churches and cemeteries where my predecessors once lived. Although it was beautiful, Yarmouth was also rocky, bleak and poor farming country. Some stayed, but some returned to New England.

Joseph and Matilda lived at 43 Bartlett St., Beverly, and their daughter, and then their granddaughter raised their families there. My mother remembers visiting her grandmother there. I was born in Beverly, and every time we passed Bartlett St. my mother would say “That’s Nana’s house!” Using the street view on Google maps I can still visit there.

Old Cemetery at Chebogue Town Point, Nova Scotia
GPS coordinates N43 46.61 W 66 05.907
Behind the Chebogue Congregational Church

Epitaph of Comfort Healy (Joseph Edwin Healey’s grandfather):

In memory of
Mr. Comfort Healy
who died May 15, 1821
Aged 67
Hear what the voice from Heaven proclaims
For all the pious dead
Sweet is the savior of their names
and soft their sleeping bed
Them while ye hearing heart strings break
How sweet my minutes roll
Immortal paleness on my cheek
And glory in my soul

Also at Chebogue
(a new memorial was raised above the original stones of Jonathan and Hannah Crosby, Matilda Weston’s great grandparents, because the originals were illegible)

Jonathan Crosby
Hannah Crosby
Came to Chebogue
June 11, 1761

Jonathan Crosby came to Chebogue, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia from Mansfield, Massachusetts, via Saybrook, Connecticut in Jun 1761, and settled on what was afterwards called Crocker's Point. The Crosbys with six other families sailed in a small vessel up the coast and into the harbor at Chebogue. He died at Chebogue on the 26th July 1782, aged 78 years and 10 months, his wife surviving him. The Yarmouth church records give a list of people who had been members "in full communion of some church heretofore" and among these original members were "Jonathan Crosby and Hannah his wife, members of the First Church in Mansfield, New England, the Rev. Richard Salter, Pastor." (New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, January 1941)


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "The Other Mayflowers, Voyage 7", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 24, 2020, ( accessed [access date]). 

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Other Mayflowers, Voyage 6

The Steamship “Orduna”, from Liverpool to Ellis Island

Bertha Roberts at about the time of her 1915 immigration 

 I previously have blogged about the Roberts family coming from England in 1915. They came from Leeds, through Liverpool and Ellis Island, to ultimately arrive in Beverly, Massachusetts in 1915. My great grandfather, John P. B. Roberts, brought his family to America, and wrote a journal about his experience. As part of this “Other Mayflowers” series, I thought I would let my grandmother speak. She was recorded by my uncle in the 1970’s, telling her immigration story on tape! 

Bertha Louise Roberts was born on 30 September 1897 in Woodhouse, Leeds, Yorkshire, England. She emigrated with her parents, and brother, Horace, when she was only nineteen years old. They came to live with her sister, Hilda, who had come to Beverly, Massachusetts several years earlier. John Roberts had a brother living in Beverly, too. Later, Bertha met my grandfather, Donald Munroe Wilkinson, at church, and they were married on 26 November 1926 at the family home on 7 Dearborn Avenue, in Beverly. This is the house where my father grew up with his two brothers, and where I lived until I was seven years old! 

Bertha’s story, in her own words: “…. At that particular time my father was a Stationary Engineer in a brewery in Leeds. He had learned his trade from his Dad. He loved his work and he was very good at it. But at that time they had changed managements and he wasn't too happy with the new manager. So he told my sister that if she really liked it over here and if she wrote and told us all about it, he might consider the family coming out. So my sister thought it was very nice in Beverly, Massachusetts, that's where they lived and she sent postal cards and told us that she thought that we would like it over here. So my father decided that perhaps it would be good for my brother and myself and so they started selling the things gradually. “My mother was very proud of her brass fender and the shovel and poker and those things. And I remember every week she would shine them and work with them. Well, of course we had to leave these things behind and sell all of the furniture. But people were very good to us. They told us we could keep them until it was time to come away. I remember the last night we slept with different people. And the people at the church couldn't understand why we would want to come to this country. They felt quite sorry that we were coming… “Then when we came to this country we were treated very good. Of course, we had to come third class. The captain was very nice. My mother and I shared a room and my father and brother shared another room. But we ate at the table together and I enjoyed the voyage very much, although it was really risky because it was during the war. In fact when we were booked to go on this Orduna Cunard liner and the voyage before the Germans had almost torpedoed it. The torpedo had just missed the boat. So they were yelling out the news that this had happened. So when we went to Liverpool to go on this boat, everybody was looking at me saying they didn't think it would make it. They thought that it would be torpedoed . Well, they had a life belt drill. Oh, we waited until the middle of the night. We went down the river Mersey and it stopped there and then in the middle of the night it started up. And the only ones who know which way we were going was the pilot and the Captain. And they had a life belt drill to tell us what to do if the siren sounded. We had a life belt. Each one of us had a life belt and they were looking out all the time for submarines. “My father wrote a diary and I gave it to my granddaughter. He had very little schooling but he was a wonderful writer and he was a smart man. Well, we enjoyed the voyage and we got there safely. And when we got here my sister had decided to meet us with a cousin of hers and the baby. But she missed us, so the guide put us on the train to Beverly, Mass. from Boston and we got off at Montserrat station. Now Beverly at that time was a beautiful city. It was called a garden city, and I thought it was just beautiful. We didn't know exactly where 60 Colon Street was, but we took a taxi and my mother was quite sick. Well, we got to the house and a neighbor came out and she had the key to the house and she said that my sister would be back again. And my sister had everything ready for us to have a nice dinner. And my uncle, the one who came when he was 18 lived in Beverly, Mass. And, of course, he and his wife and children came up to see us. Well, that night the older people talked all night, they had a lot to catch up with…” 

Donald Wilkinson died at Long Beach, California in 1977 and Bertha died at Long Beach in 1990. Please see my blog posting on July 30, 2009 for the journal John Peter Bowden Roberts (Bertha's father) kept on his voyage to America. 


To cite/link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "The Other Mayflowers, Voyage 6", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 23, 2020, ( accessed [access date]). 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1782

Last week I posted the 2009 Annual Thanksgiving Proclamation for the State of New Hampshire, signed this year by our Governor John Lynch. Here is a transcription of the 1782 Proclamation, originating with the New Hampshire Committee of Safety....

EXETER, November 1, 1782.
THAT the following Proclamation for a general THANKSGIVING on the twenty-eighth day of November [instant?], received from the honorable Continental Congress, be forthwith printed, and sent to the several worshipping Assemblies in this State, to whom it is recommended religiously to observe said day, and to abstain from all servile labour thereon.
M. WEARE, President.
By the United States in Congress assembled.


IT being the indispensable duty of all Nations, not only to offer up their supplications to ALMIGHTY GOD, the giver of all good, for his gracious assistance in a time of distress, but also in a solemn and public manner to give him praise for his goodness in general, and especially for great and signal interpositions of his providence in their behalf: Therefore the United States in Congress assembled, taking into their consideration the many instances of divine goodness to these States, in the course of the important conflict in which they have been so long engaged; the present happy and promising state of public affairs; and the events of the war, in the course of the year now drawing to a close; particularly the harmony of the public Councils, which is so necessary to the success of the public cause; the perfect union and good understanding which has hitherto subsisted between them and their Allies, notwithstanding the artful and unwearied attempts of the common enemy to divide them; the success of the arms of the United States, and those of their Allies, and the acknowledgment of their independence by another European power, whose friendship and commerce must be of great and lasting advantage to these States:----- Do hereby recommend to the inhabitants of these States in general, to observe, and request the several States to interpose their authority in appointing and commanding the observation of THURSDAY the twenty-eight day of NOVEMBER next, as a day of solemn THANKSGIVING to GOD for all his mercies: and they do further recommend to all ranks, to testify to their gratitude to GOD for his goodness, by a cheerful obedience of his laws, and by promoting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness.
Done in Congress, at Philadelphia, the eleventh day of October, in the year of our LORD one thousand seven hundred and eighty-two, and of our Sovereignty and Independence, the seventh.
JOHN HANSON, President.
Charles Thomson, Secretary.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Other Mayflowers, Voyage 5

The Shipwreck of the “Angel Gabriel”

The Great migration was an exodus of Puritans from England to New England between 1620 and 1640. During this time John Winthrop sailed on the “Arabella” and wrote his famous sermon about the “City on a Hill” during the voyage. Most of my ancestors arrived in this period, on many ships, mostly unrecorded by passenger lists. One ship carried the most ancestors (besides the Mayflower), and that was the galleon “Angel Gabriel.”

She was a galleon built for Sir Walter Raleigh, and carried him on his last trip to the New World in 1617. For eighteen years she carried passengers to America, but in 1635 she was shipwrecked in Maine. I’m descended of two of the families who survived: Andrews and Cogswell. “Angel Gabriel” had been blown off course by a hurricane, and came ashore at Pemaquid Point, Maine, which was a fortified military outpost. When the passengers disembarked for the night, the ship was caught at anchor in the harbor by another hurricane and disappeared. Although many have searched for her wreck, none have found any evidence of the “Angel Gabriel.”

The survivors were stranded at Maine for a short time, eventually made their way to Boston, Massachusetts and left a large number of descendants. Today there is a museum at the recreated fortress near the harbor, and plaques commemorating the shipwreck of the “Angel Gabriel” by the lighthouse. The gift shop maintains several three ring binders where many descendants have deposited family trees and genealogical information. Several of these families have associations with newsletters and annual reunions.

We visited Pemaquid Point a few years ago, to see the harbor and wooden stockade fortress. You will recognize Pemaquid lighthouse from the Maine state quarter that began circulation in 2003. It was a beautiful summer day, and the view from the top of the lighthouse was spectacular. But I’m sure that my ancestors didn’t appreciate the view as I did (well, there was no lighthouse in 1635 either!) Several ships were lost in this storm, and the “Angel Gabriel’s” companion ship “James” was blown to the Isles of Shoals. The passengers lost all their possessions (the Cogswells were reported to have lost five thousand pounds of money and much property) and valuable time in getting to their destination. Thankfully, only three or four of the passengers and crew, and most of the cattle, lost their lives since the passengers had all disembarked for the night.

There is no official passenger list that has survived the wreck. According to a book written in 2001, this is the recreated list of passengers. The possible list of passengers should be much larger, since the “James” had at least 100 passengers.

• Capt. Robert Andrews, Ship’s Master,Ipswich, Massachusetts
• John Bailey, Sr., Newbury, Massachusetts
• John Bailey, Jr. b. 1613
• Johanna Bailey (possibly came on a later ship)
• Henry Beck
• Ralph Blaisdell of Lancashire, settled in York, Maine
• Mrs. Elizabeth Blaisdell
• Henry Blaisdell
• William Furber
John Cogswell, age 43, settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts
Elizabeth, (Thompson) Cogswell about age 41,
• Mary Cogswell, about age 18,
• William Cogswell, about age 16,
John Cogswell, about age 13,
• Hannah Cogswell, about age 11,
• Abigail Cogswell, about age 9,
• Edward Cogswell, about age 6,
• Sarah Cogswell, about age 3,
• Elizabeth Cogswell, infant
• Samuel Haines, about age 24, Greenland, New Hampshire
• William Hook
• Henry Simpson

Highlighted passengers are some of my ancestors!

For more information see:

“Angel Gabriel: The Elusive English Galleon” by Warren C. Riess, published by 1797 House, 2001

The Journal of the Reverend Richard Mather (who was aboard the “James”) published 1850


Cite/Link to this post:  Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "The Other Mayflowers, Voyage 5", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 20, 2009,  ( accessed [access date]).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Kreative Blogger Award

Thanks to Bill West at for passing me the Kreativ Blogger Award. He is one of the other genealogy bloggers from New England I have “met” online. I’ve enjoyed his blogging ideas, such as the Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge, which has helped expand my ideas, since I’m a new blogger. It’s nice to know that someone out there besides Mom is reading my blog!

As part of the award, I’ve been challenged to reveal seven things about myself that I haven’t blogged about to the genealogy community. And I need to pass along the award to seven other bloggers.

Me Trivia:

1. I took seven years of French classes and then married a Spaniard. Go figure!

2. I had to wear a foot brace for the last few years, yet recently I’ve been trying to get along without it and its working (so far!) Keep your fingers crossed…

3. When I retire I’d love to live in a college community and take advantage of classes, activities, clubs and libraries. We’ve looked into condos at MIT and several other Boston Universities. Very cool!

4. My favorite movie is “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” It has nothing to do with history or genealogy, and I still laugh at all the jokes all the way through no matter how often I see it.

5. I’m very math-phobic, but I married an MIT rocket scientist so it all works out. He went to school outside of the USA and never took American History.

6. My favorite food is Chinese. Chinese anything. Breakfast, lunch or dinner.

7. Oops! I was told there was no math involved!

There are too many good genealogy and history based blogs out there to choose amongst, but I’ll pass the gavel to….

1. James Tanner at “Genealogy’s Star”

2. Caitlin Hopkins at “Vast Public Indifference”

3. J. L. Bell at “Boston 1775”

4. Maggiemac at “History of American Women”

5. Sandy at “Remembering Danvers”

6. N. L. Taylor at “A Genealogist’s Sketchbook”

7. Robin C. Mason at “Boston Genealogy Examiner”

Tag! You’re it! The rules of the award are as follows:
1. Thank the person who gave this to you.
2. Copy the logo and place it in your blog.
3. Link the person who nominated you.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that no one would really know.
5. Nominate seven 'Kreativ Bloggers.'

The Other Mayflowers, Voyage 4

The Hessian Soldier who stayed in the New World

Part four in my Thanksgiving series about ancestors who DIDN’T arrive in the New World on the Mayflower. My 4x great grandfather Johann Daniel Bollman was a surgeon from Hammersleben in Saxony, Germany. He came to North America with Baron de Riedesel’s Brunswick Regiment of Hessian Soldiers in 1776. The Duke of Brunswick had contracted with England to send 3,964 foot soldiers and cavalry to America. They arrived in Quebec and their military objective was to cut off New England from the other colonies by driving troops down to Albany. They lost the battle at Bennington, Vermont when 200 Germans were killed and another 700 were captured. Again, at Saratoga, the Americans trapped them and took the Germans as prisoners of war for the duration.

Fortunately, as an officer and a surgeon, Johann Daniel Bollman was a valuable prisoner. He was also wounded at Saratoga, and while being held he tended to the other sick and wounded. He was exchanged as a prisoner of war, and sent to Halifax. Eventually he settled as a permanent resident of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, the home of many German speaking settlers.

Dr. Bollman was not only a physician, he also became active in politics and served as a member of the House of Assembly representing Lunenburg Township between 1793 to 1809. In 1782 he married Jane Bremner, daughter of Scots settlers and widow of Phillip Knaut, an original Lunenburg grantee. His granddaughter removed to Massachusetts in the 1870s and joined the family tree in the United States.

Bollman Family Tree:

Generation 1: Dr. Johann Daniel Bollman, born about 1751 in Hammersleben, Magdeburg, Saxony, Germany, died 17 September 1833 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada; married on 14 February 1782 in Lunenburg to Jane Bremner, daughter of Robert Bremner and Margaret Stewart, born about 1764 and died on 6 March 1829 in Lunenburg. Eleven children including two sons who were surgeons…

Generation 2: Dr. Bremner Frederick Bollman, born 25 February 1802 in Lunenburg, died on 15 December 1838 in Lunenburg; married to Sarah Elizabeth Lennox, daughter of John Lennox and Ann Margaretha Schupp, born 16 February 1805 in Lunenburg. Three children…

Generation 3: Ann Margaret Bollman, born 11 September 1835 in Lunenburg and died 1923 in Salem, Massachusetts; married on 7 June 1858 in Lunenburg to Caleb Rand Bill, son of the Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill and Isabella Lyons. He was born on 30 May 1833 in Billtown, Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, and died on 30 December 1902 in Salem, Massachusetts. See my blog posting on October 4, 2009 “Bill Family Reunion” for a continuation of this lineage.


“The Diary of Adolphus Gaetz” describes life in early Lunenburg, Nova Scotia between 1855 and 1873. Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management

“Johnny Bluenose at the Polls” by Brian Cuthbertson, Formac Publishing, Halifax, 1994

“Surgeons, Smallpox, and the Poor: A History of Medicine and Social Conditions in Nova Scotia, 1749-1799”, by Allan Everett Marble, McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal

Johannes Schwalm Historical Association website of Hessian Soldiers and their Descendants in the New World

The records of Saint John's Anglican Church, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "The Other Mayflowers, Voyage 4", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 19, 2020, ( accessed [access date]).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving Proclamation 2009

At the Statehouse Concord, New Hampshire

As a member of an Hispanic family I need to remind everyone that the first recorded North American Thanksgiving was not in Plymouth, although we are celebrating the Separatist's Harvest feast, nor was it held in Jamestown (as some Virginians claim), it was actually held on 30 April 1598 by Spaniard Don Juan de Oñate and his followers near today’s El Paso, Texas. As a member of the Mayflower Society I remind you that tradition holds that we do venerate and celebrate the history of the 1621 harvest feast in Plymouth on the third Thursday of November every year as the American holiday of Thanksgiving.

And so, this morning, at the New Hampshire Statehouse in Concord, our Governor Lynch signed the annual Thanksgiving Proclamation. The New Hampshire Mayflower Society Governor Dean Dexter drew up the wording, and Deputy Governor John Payzant of New Castle, and yours truly, Captain Heather Rojo of Londonderry were there for the photo opportunity and handshake. The Mayflower Society’s role is to honor the memory of our Plymouth ancestors and to fulfill this mission through genealogical research and promoting our colonial history.

All this so you can enjoy your day off next week, and officially have your turkey dinner!


WHEREAS, In the autumn of 1621, the Pilgrims held a three-day feast to celebrate the plentiful harvest they reaped following their first winter in North America, and

WHEREAS, the first national Thanksgiving Day, proclaimed by President George Washington, was November, 26, 1789, and President Abraham Lincoln, proclaimed the first annual national holiday in 1863, establishing as the date the last Thursday of November at the behest of nationally celebrated editor and author, and daughter of New Hampshire, Sarah Josepha Hale; and

WHEREAS, on Thanksgiving Day, New Hampshire citizens and all Americans come together to enjoy the fellowship of family and friends with a feast that symbolizes the many blessings in our lives; and

WHEREAS, while Thanksgiving is a time to gather in a spirit of gratitude with family, friends, and neighbors, it is also an opportunity to serve others and to share our blessings with those in need; and

WHEREAS, as citizens we pause to consider our good fortune as residents of this Great State, we are especially mindful of the heroic men and women serving in our Armed Forces, especially those serving abroad;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, John Lynch, Governor of the State of New Hampshire, do recognize and celebrate November 26, 2009 as


and encourage the people of New Hampshire to pray or reflect on their own and give thanks for the rich blessings of our State and our Nation.

In WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of the State of New Hampshire

John Lynch

DONE at the Capitol in Concord in the Executive Chambers on this Eighteenth day of November in the year Two Thousand and Nine.

Sources: The New Mexico Genealogical Society “First Thanksgiving”

“The Last Conquistador: Juan de Oñate and the Settling of the Far Southwest” by Marc Simmons. University of Oklahoma Press, 1991, pp. 97-101.

“History of Plymouth Plantation”, by William Bradford, circa 1650

painting of the "Acion de Gracias" and Juan de Oñate

Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

The Other Mayflowers, Voyage 3

Prisoner of War aboard the ship “John and Sara” From Scotland to Boston, 1651 

 This is part three of my miniseries of Thanksgiving blogs on the immigration of certain ancestors to America, during the week when our thoughts usually rest with our Mayflower passenger ancestors. 

 My 7x great grandfather William Munroe arrived in Massachusetts a little more than thirty years after the Pilgrims settled in Plymouth. His immigration was forced as a prisoner of war and indentured servant, similar to the stories of thousands of other European arrivals, yet not nearly as infamous as the story of the arrival of the hundreds of thousands who arrived in America as slaves. 

 William Munroe was a Scots warrior, from a long line of warriors in the Clan Munro who had fought in battles such as Halidon Hill and Bannockburn. During the English Civil War three brothers, William, Robert, and George Munroe all fought for the crown at the Battle of Worcester. The Puritan side won, and the Scots prisoners of war were marched to London, and on 11 November 1651 the Munroe brothers were listed as chattel aboard the “John and Sara.” The ship landed in Boston, and the 272 prisoners of war sold off as indentured servants by Thomas Kemble of Charlestown. William served his time as an indentured servant at a mill in Menotomy (now Arlington, Massachusetts) and was on his own by 1657 when he was referred to in the Cambridge, Massachusetts records for being fined for not having a ring in the nose of his pig. By 1660 he settled in Cambridge Farms, now known as Lexington. He was a freeman in 1690 and in 1699 received communion into the church. 

The Scots were not welcome as neighbors to the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, but one by one they began to integrate into society. William Munroe was married three times. The first wife was Martha George, married about 1665, who died young leaving him with four children, including my ancestor George Munroe born about 1672. His second wife gave him ten more children, and so began a huge line of descendants that went on to fight in the Battle of Lexington, the Revolutionary War and contributed to many other further events in Massachusetts and the United States. The line of Munroe Scots warriors continued to serve in the Civil War, Spanish American War, and both World Wars. Thus, a reluctant arrival in America directly influenced American History. Of the militia members at the Lexington Green on the morning of April 19th, 1775, at least half were Munroes or near kin.

Munroe Tavern in Lexington, Massachusetts 

On Thanksgiving week we must remember that there were also several servants and indentured servants aboard the Mayflower, including the four More children (all under the age of eight!) and my own ancestors Ned Doty, George Soule, and John Howland. All the Mayflower passengers were also indebted to the Plymouth Company to pay back their passage to the New World with goods to be returned to England in trade. For more about the Munroe Lineage see my blog on November 5, 2009 "Google Your Way to a Quilt". 

For more information about the social history of forced emigration see: 

“Emigrants in Chains: A Social History of Forced Emigration to the Americas of Felons, Destitute Children, Political and Religious Non-Conformists, Vagabonds, Beggars and other Undesirables, 1607 -1776” by Peter Wilson Coldham, published by the Genealogical Publishing Company 

 “The Dictionary of Scottish Immigrants to the U. S. A.” by Donald Whyte, Magna Carta Book Company, Baltimore 1972 

 “Colonists for Sale: The Story of Indentured Servants in America” by Clifford Lindsey Alderman, Macmillan Publishing, New York, 1975 


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "The Other Mayflowers, Voyage 3", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 18, 2020, ( accessed [access date]). 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Other Mayflowers, Voyage 2

From Rotterdam to Salem, Massachusetts


This is part two of a series of Thanksgiving blogs for my ancestors who DIDN’T come on the Mayflower. Today I’m thinking about my 3x great grandfather Peter Hoogerzeil. We don’t know the name of the ship he took to arrive in America, and we don’t know the date, but the other details of his immigration are so interesting my cousin wants to write them into a historical romance. I’ll let you be the judge! The Hoogerzeil family not only has an interesting surname, but the origins of the name are interesting, too. In the Netherland, this family tree goes back to the 1500’s with names that are patronymics. Arijen Bruynen, born in 1631 had a son named Bruin Arijens, born in 1661, and his son should have been named Ocker Bruins, but instead he took the name “Hoogersijl” which means “High Sails” because he was a sea captain. From that moment on he created the Hoogerzeil family tree. Everyone in the world with the name Hoogerzeil or Hogerseil or its variations is a cousin. There is a long line of sea captains in this family, and in my lineage they were whaling sea captains. In Europe, the whaling center was the Netherlands, like New England, especially New Bedford, for the United States. They fished for the whales off Greenland, and I have some fascinating journals and ships logs of their adventures off the coast of Europe I’ll have to save for another blog. In this lineage, Captain Simon Hogerseijl of Nieuwpoort, Holland had a son named Peter, born in 1803. Being the younger son, for some reason he was unsatisfied with life in the Netherlands, and in the 1820s he stowed aboard a ship full of hemp out of Rotterdam, bound for the rope works in Salem, Massachusetts. Either Peter was very lucky, or very charismatic, however he was not punished for being a stowaway on board Captain Josiah Stone’s ship. Of all things, he ended up marrying Captain Stone’s youngest daughter, Eunice, on 30 December 1828 in Beverly, Massachusetts! Peter is listed as a caulker and engraver on the early census records, and on his children’s birth records he is also listed as a mariner. At the Phillip’s Library in Salem I found him under the ship’s registers of the brig “Pioneer” in 1826 bound for Havana, the brig “Jones” in 1828 bound for Matanazas, and aboard the ship “Clay” in 1829 for the Pacific Ocean. I know the family also visited Holland on and off over the next fifty years, and many letters survived from both sides. Like my Mayflower ancestors, the Hoogerzeil family thrived in Massachusetts. Peter and Eunice had six children, who all married and left many, many descendants. In this family there have been factory workers, inventors, teachers, musicians and draftsmen- a full range of occupations across the board, just like the people I meet at Mayflower meetings. And like the Mayflower passengers, they left Holland and found their place in America, starting in Massachusetts. Happy Thanksgiving! See my blog posting on 2 September 2009 "The Value of Posting Brick Walls on Genealogical Bulletin Boards" for more on the Hoogerzeil family. 


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, The Other Mayflowers, Voyage 2", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 17, 2020, ( accessed [access date]). 

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Other Mayflowers Series

Lockheed Constellation- Madrid to New York City
Vincent's parents arrived in America via Air France

The Newlyweds 1960 Madrid, Spain 1960 

This week before Thanksgiving will be dedicated to blogging about my other family members and ancestors who came to the New World, not just my Mayflower ancestors. There are a lot to choose from, but I’m going to start with my mother and father-in-law, who arrived in New York City in 1960 aboard an Air France airlines Lockheed Constellation prop plane from Madrid, Spain. It was 340 years after my ancestors came to Plymouth, Massachusetts, and the most recent of any immigrants in our combined family trees.

My father-in-law had been working at the United Nations for a few years, and went home that Christmas to be married and bring his bride back to the United States. They left their families, and Spain under Franco, to come immediately to New York City. My mother-in-law found herself soon as a new bride, pregnant later that year, in a strange new country. They were married in January (yes, a fiftieth anniversary is coming up soon!) and my husband was born in Manhattan in November of that same year. (Yes, count the months, it works out OK!)

The Lockheed Constellation was a four engine airliner that won fame for its service in the Berlin Airlift. The Constellation had one of the first pressurized cabins, and was used by TWA, Pan Am, and Eastern Airlines in the USA. It was also President Eisenhower’s presidential aircraft named Columbine II and Columbine III. By 1967 it was no longer being used by airlines, and new jet airlines such as the Boeing 707 and the Douglas DC-8 made their debut. There is a Super Constellation on display at the National Air and Space Museum Center at Dulles Airport in Virginia, and three years ago our family saw it there. It was sort of like visiting Plymouth and seeing the Mayflower for the Rojo family!

Flying in a pressurized cabin across the Atlantic as an immigrant to America seems pretty posh compared to some of the horrid shipboard conditions earlier immigrants to America had to endure. However, anyone who had the pluck and bravery to start out a new life in a new country gets my applause. Especially a move where new customs, language and traditions are involved. Most of my own ancestors from my own side of the family tree removed from England to English speaking Massachusetts, which was difficult enough in the 1600’s and early 1700s, but at least the culture remained very similar. From 1960 Spain under Franco to New York City in the United States was a very brave voyage.

For more about the Rojo lineage, and the Spanish Civil War, see my blog post on September 3, 2009 "Mass Grave at Monte Costajan"


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "The Other Mayflowers Series", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 16, 2020, ( accessed [access date]). 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun- A Nice Thing

This in response to Randy Seaver's post at He asks genea-bloggers to remember one nice thing another genealogist did for you in the past week. In my case, it was another relative who sent me some wonderful photos of my great-great grand father Caleb Rand Bill, the music professor from Salem, Massachusetts. Caleb lived 1833 to 1902, and he was born in Nova Scotia. In my family tree there are at least five Caleb Rand Bills, including my Caleb's uncle with the same name who was the first senator from Nova Scotia to Canada's new parliment in 1867.

This relative and I met in October, and I blogged about it then. We had a small famiy reunion in Peabody, Massachusetts of a small group of Caleb Rand Bill's descendants. It was at this time that I mentioned that I had never seen a photograph of our great-great grand father, even though I had a copy of a photo of his father, the Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill. It was wonderful to recieve the copies of these photographs. One is a scan of an advertisement for a studio photographer in a Salem newspaper, showing Caleb's wedding photo to his wife Ann Margaret Bollman.


See my posts on October 4, September 1 and 15, 2009 for more on the Bill family....

Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday ~ The Mystery Chest

We had a mystery chest passed down through the generations. Four generations of our family had lived in the same house in Beverly, and the chest was in the cellar. Later we moved to central Massachusetts, and Dad used it as a tool box. Once he had a Salem antique dealer come to the basement to look at some old furniture, and the fellow ignored all the furniture, but he wanted to buy the tool box from my Dad. Of course, Dad didn’t sell it. Where would he store the hammers and screwdrivers? Dad kept it in the basement, next to the kitty litter box. It was old and scratched and abused.

Years later I toured the Jonathan Corwin House on Essex Street in Salem. It is popularly known as the “Witch House” even though the only witch related event that took place there was that Corwin was one of the Judges in the witch trials of 1692. There was a slant topped bible box in the parlor of the Corwin House that looked just like my Dad’s box.

I called Dad and started asking questions. He didn’t know where his old chest came from, but it was from his father’s side of the family. The Wilkinsons lived in Salem and Beverly, Massachusetts for many generations, and on this side of the family there were also many ministers, going all the way back to Reverend Samuel Skelton, the first minister in Salem. I looked on line, and found many images of bible boxes and valuables boxes from the 1600’s and 1700’s, and some looked like Dad’s “tool box.”

Bible boxes were used to keep the most valuable items of the house safe, and of course the family bible was always one of the most precious items in a New England Puritan’s possession. The slant top let it also be used as a desk top. Some bible boxes had legs, and most sat on top of other tables. Some were plain, dark painted wood, without decorations like Dad’s, some were very fancy, like one I saw at FDR’s library in Hyde Park, made in Holland in the 1600s and decorated with carvings.

Bible boxes defined according to Wikipedia: “In Colonial America this container was produced locally in a great variety of styles and finishes, by amateurs and professionals. Just about anybody who could afford nails, a few planks of wood and a hammer could improvise a bible box.” That describes Dad’s box, for it was simply made, without dovetails or fancy woodworking techniques. Wikipedia also states that the term “Bible box” is often used for just a portable desk. They also served as portable lecterns.

Not many people in the family were students or very educated people, except for the ministers in the family. The last minister in the family was Rev. Ingraham Ebenezer Bill, who never even attended high school or college. I suppose the slant topped box could have made a great pulpit in a pinch, but I could see it more for being used as a desk or for storage.

When Dad passed away, and Mom moved out of the old house, I was given the box. I still don’t know who made it, or who used it. I don’t know its real purpose. We’ve started to call it “The Coffin” because of its size and shape. It lives in our basement down next to our cat’s litter box, but we no longer store tools inside. It sits empty- waiting for me to discover its origins. Maybe we’ll find a local taping of “Antiques Road Show” and bring it out for an appraisal?

The bible box from the Jabez Howland House, Plymouth, Massachusetts


See my blog post from September 15, 2009 for a story about Rev. I. E. Bill


To Cite/Link to this blog post:  Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Treasure Chest Thursday ~ The Mystery Chest", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 12, 2009, ( accessed [access date]).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How to find your American Veteran Ancestors (A. Frank Hitchings)

Abijah Franklin Hitchings, Civil War, Co. I, 8th Reg. Mass. Vol. Inf.

Veterans Day 2009

The further your family tree goes back in time, the more chances you have of finding an ancestor, sibling, or distant cousin who served as a soldier or sailor. My first advice is to continue collecting oral histories, and asking all your older relatives about anyone they might have known who served in the military. Use those oral histories to build your family tree, and to investigate the possibilities of proving that those named relatives were veterans.

A great resource is for finding veterans. Almost every year Ancestry offers a free pass to their records on Veteran’s Day weekend. If not, your local library might have a free subscription to Ancestry. Use their search options to find your male ancestors, or, as in my case, I tried a wider search such as just the surname “Wilkinson” in “New Hampshire” to see what results came up. Often the results are just names in indexes, and you will need to take the name, military branch, service unit, and other details to the National Archives or other sources to find the actual information.

This was the case of my ancestor Abijah Franklin Hitchings. When I put his name into the Ancestry search, I found his name listed under the Civil War. He was listed in several fields, “Civil War Pension Index”, “Mass. Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Civil War”, “History of the “Salem Light Infantry”, etc. When I clicked on his name under the pension index, all that came up was a scanned image of the index card held in the National Archives, listing his name, state, unit of service, and some application and certificate numbers. It was not very useful information to me at first, but when I wrote to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. they were able to send me a large folder which included all his service records, his pension records, his widow’s pension records, and his medical records. It was over 100 pages of information on him, his wife, children, birth date, and even named neighbors who witnessed his signature.

Abijah Franklin Hitchings served twice in the Civil War. First he served in “Company I” of the 8th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, called the “Minute Men.” This was the group of men who sailed to Annapolis and took the ship “Constitution” (Old Ironsides) safely to New York harbor, out of reach of the confederates. The second time he enlisted in “Company H” of the 19th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, and was wounded in the Battle of Fredericksburg. Apparently his leg injury was severe, but he wouldn’t let them “take” his leg. The ensuing injuries and illnesses from this injury plagued him for the rest of his life, and he left a long medical record and pension records.

About ten years ago we took a family vacation to Williamsburg, Virginia, and stopped by the Fredericksburg Battlefield to see where great, great grandfather Hitchings was injured. I made some specific inquiries at the ranger station of the National Battlefield office, and the young woman there broke into a big smile at my questions. She came out from behind the desk with a large book and a map, and after finding the name Hitchings and his regiment, she told us the whole story of the skirmishes at the Sunken Road, and the Salem, Massachusetts men involved in the battle. She told us where to look for the exact little mound of earth where the men hid from the gunfire, and how they escaped death. When we went out to the Sunken Road, we were able to find the exact spot where Abijah Franklin Hitchings was shot (more or less). We took photos and ran back to thank our National Park Ranger, and promised to send her a copy of the photo of A. F. Hitchings in uniform.

It pays to ask questions! And it pays to continue looking for information. After knowing that Abijah Franklin Hitchings was a veteran, I wrote to the superintendant of the cemetery where he was buried, and she was able to photocopy the 1910 obituaries for me from her files. It was easy to find his gravestone in the cemetery, (just look for the flags around Memorial Day!) As a civil war widow with a pension, his wife, Hannah Eliza Lewis, had her own pension records included in with the veteran’s records. Among these records on Hannah, was a letter written by my great grandfather, Arthur Treadwell Hitchings, asking for an increase in her pension to cover her care at Danvers State Asylum, where she died in 1921.

Obituaries (filed by the Harmony Grove Cemetery)

May 20, 1910


Was Deputy Collector of the Port of Beverly and Salem for Many Years


A. Frank Hitchings, deputy collector of customs for the district of Salem and Beverly, died at his home, 8 Bentley Street, last night. He was born in Salem, was the son of the late Abijah and Eliza (Treadwell) Hitchings, and was in his 69th year. He was educated in the Salem public schools, and afterwards worked at shoe making. He was one of the original minute men, enlisting as a boy of 19 years, in the old Salem Zouaves. Company J, Eighth regiment, M.V.M., Capt. Arthur F. Devereaux, and serving until discharged August 1, 1861. He re-enlisted as a sergeant in Company H., 19th Massachusetts regiment, and was discharged July 25, 1863 on account of wounds received at the battle of Fredericksburg. He joined Post 34, G.A.R., May 17, 1869.

Nov. 19, 1873 Mr. Hitchings was appointed an inspector in the Salem Custom house and assigned to duty as clerk. June 3, 1881, he was promoted to deputy collector, succeeding Col. J. Frank Dalton, who resigned May 7, 1881, to become postmaster of Salem. Mr. Hitchings has held the position of deputy collector ever since. He was a fine penman, very careful and methodical in everything that he did, and was a valuable government official. In connection with Stephen W. Phillips he prepared for publication by the Essex Institute the official register of all Salem vessels of which any record could be found in the Salem Custom house, a work which is extremely valuable today. He was a member of the Essex Institute. He possessed a fund of valuable information of Salem's early history, gleaned from his long service in the custom house.

Mr. Hitchings leaves a widow, a son, a daughter, and grandchildren.

Obituary from an unknown newspaper in Salem, Massachusetts
May 23, 1910

A. Frank Hitchings

The funeral of Deputy Collector of Customs A. Frank Hitchings was held at his late home, 8 Bentley Street, yesterday afternoon. Rev. Charles H. Puffer, D. D., and Rev. Alfred Manchester officiated, and there was a very large attendance, including comrades of Post 34, G.A.R., the old Salem Zouaves, Collector of Customs David M. Little, and past and present Custom house officials, and many prominent citizens. The G. A. R. service was conducted by Commander J. Frank Dalton, Chaplain William I. Arvedson, S.V.C. Eben S. Perkins, O.D.,John C. Grover, Adjutant Everett E. Austin and Patriotic Instructor Charles H. Frye of Post 34.

The honorary pallbearers were Hon. David M. Little, William J. Sullivan, Daniel F. Connolly and I.P. Hanscomb of the Custom house force, and the active bearers were Capt. John R. Lakeman, Charles P. Luscomb, Joseph A. Perkins, and Henry Symonds of the Salem Zouaves and all members of Post 34. The floral tributes were profuse and beautiful. Burial was at Harmony Grove cemetery.

Mr. Hitchings was born in Salem, the son of Abijah and Eliza (Treadwell) Hitchings, and was in his 69th year. He was educated in the Salem public schools, graduating from the High school. He afterwards learned the sailmaker's trade, and was an apprentice when the Civil war broke out, when he enlisted as private in the old Salem Zouaves, Company J., Eighth Massachusetts regiment, Capt. Charles U. Devereaux, and Col. Edward H. Hincks, October 25, 1861, and served until discharged on account of disability from wounds July 25, 1863.

Passed through all the trials and hardships of the Fighting 19th, he took part in all the battles of the Peninsula campaign, some of them particularly severe, notably Antietam and Fredricksburg. Wounded on the third day of the battle Fredricksburg by a gun shot in the left leg, he was carried to a church in Fredricksburg where the bullet was extracted, and from there to the hospital camp across the river, and soon after to the Finley hospital in Washington. He remained six weeks, and then came home on a 60-day furlough, dated Jan. 23, 1863.

Mr. Hitchings was never able to return to his regiment, and was discharged, as before stated. He went to the Massachusetts General hospital the following December, and a portion of the bone was removed from his leg. He came home to Salem, Jan. 18, 1864, and for a long time was obliged to go on crutches. Obtaining employment in the United States navy yard, Boston, he continued to work there until he received the appointment of inspector of customs for the district of Salem and Beverly, Nov. 19, 1873, he being detailed for clerk duty June 3, 1881, he was promoted to deputy collector, succeeding Col. J. Frank Dalton, who was appointed postmaster of Salem, May 7, 1881. Mr. Hitchings held the latter position up to the time of his death.


Family Tree Information:

Gen. 1. Daniel Hitchings, born about 1597 in England, son of Gyles Hitchins and Mary Trotman. He was the first Hitchings in New England.

Gen. 2. Daniel Hitchings, born 1632 in England, died 15 April 1731 in Lynn, Massachusetts; married 10 September 1694 in Lynn to Eleanor Unknown. Daniel held land at Rumney Marsh on the Saugus River at the west end of Iron Works Pond, bought from the Indians James Quonopihik and David Kunkshamooshaw.

Gen. 3. Daniel Hitchings, born about 1660 in Lynn, died 15 January 1734/5 in Lynn; married 19 October 1708 in Lynn to Susannah Townsend, daughter of Thomas Townsend and Mary Davis, born 5 November 1672 in Boston, died 12 May 1737 in Lynn.

Gen. 4. Daniel Hitchings, born 19 Oct 1709 in Lynn, died 25 April 1760 in Lynn; married June 1735 in Lynn to Hannah Ingalls, daughter of Nathaniel Ingalls and Anne Collins, born about 1713, died after 1797.

Gen. 5. Abijah Hitchings, born 18 January 1752/3 in Lynn, died 27 March 1826 in Salem; married 24 June 1775 in Lynn, daughter of Benjamin Gardner, died 23 May 1807 in Salem.

Gen. 6. Abijah Hitchings, born about 1775; married 21 December 1795 in Salem to Mary Cloutman, daughter of Joseph Cloutman and Hannah Becket, died 28 November 1853 in Salem.

Gen. 7 . Abijah Hitchings, born 18 January 1809, Salem, died 18 January 1864 in Salem; married 4 December 1836 in Salem to Eliza Ann Treadwell, daughter of Jabez Treadwell and Betsey Jillings Homan, born 27 August 1812 in Salem, died 31 January 1896 in Salem.

Gen. 8. Abijah Franklin Hitchings, born 28 October 1841 in Salem died 19 May 1910 in Salem; married 22 September 1864 to Hannah Eliza Lewis, daughter of Captain Thomas Russell Lewis and Hannah Phillips, born about 1844 in Salem, died 15 February 1921 at Danvers State Hospital. Civil War Veteran.


To Cite/Link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "How to find your American Veteran Ancestors (A. Frank Hitchings)", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 10, 2009, ( accessed [access date]). 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Astronaut Alan Shepard, of Derry, New Hampshire

Astronaut Alan Shepard, of Derry, New Hampshire

The first American in space was born in Derry, New Hampshire in 1923. Alan Bartlett Shepard grew up on the family farm, which is now just a house on East Derry Road. He ran errands at Grenier Field (now Manchester Airport) when he was still just a Pinkerton high school student. The Shepard family attended the First Parish Church in East Derry, and his father was the organist. He graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis and served during the end of World War II.

Because he loved airplanes, and couldn’t wait to receive his pilot’s license, he attended a civilian flying school while attending naval flight training. In 1950 he attended the U.S. Test Pilot program, and eventually became an instructor. By 1959, when NASA was created, he was invited to apply for the astronaut program, and was chosen as one of the seven men for the Mercury Project. From these seven, Alan Shepard was chosen to be the first man in space. The Russian Yuri Gagarin’s flight in space took place a few weeks before the Mercury launch, so Shepard became the first American in space on May 5, 1961. On his return to earth Shepard was given tickertape parades in New York, Washington and Los Angeles.

And Derry honored Shepard, too. In June 1962 Shepard returned to Derry for a parade and celebration. 100,000 people welcomed the first astronaut. Businesses ran sales and displayed rockets in the windows. The entire town was decorated in red, white and blue bunting. Shepard was quoted in the Nashua Telegraph with saying “the economic position of Derry is not good, but its perseverance and determination has helped me in my role.”

The Pinkerton Academy teams are still called “The Astros” and there is a building on campus named for Alan Shepard. The section of Interstate Route 93 that passes Derry and Londonderry is still called “The Alan Shepard Highway”, and there is still a sign to remind you of this when you go north on Exit 4. If you are of a certain age you will remember that at exit 4, near the Londonderry/ Derry line, there used to be a motel with a giant wooden rocket, and a sign for the “Space Town Motel,” approximately where the entrance to the Cracker Barrel restaurant now stands. There is still a “Spacetown Auto Body” on Broadway.

Shepard also commanded the Apollo 14 flight on January 31, 1971. He was most famous for posing on the moon with his golf club, swinging at two golf balls he smuggled aboard. He served for NASA until 1974, ran a private business for several years, and died of leukemia in 1998. His wife died only five weeks later. They were both cremated, and their ashes scatted at sea near Pebble Beach, California, but there is a gravestone for Commander Alan Shepard and his wife, Louise Brewer Shepard, at the Forest Hill Cemetery in East Derry, marked “Love is Eternal.”

Family Tree Information:

(Rear Admiral Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr. is descended of several Colonial New Hampshire Families: Emerson, Eaton, Bartlett, etc. and also Mayflower Passenger Richard Warren)

His Mayflower lineage:

Generation 1. Richard Warren (Mayflower Passenger) m. Elizabeth Walker
Generation 2. Nathaniel Warren m. Sarah Walker
Generation 3. Mercy Warren m. Lt. Jonathan Delano
Generation 4. Jonathan Delano m. Amey Hatch
Generation 5. Silvanus Delano m. Elizabeth Abbot Peck
Generation 6. Anna Delano m. Abner R. Johnson
Generation 7. Abner R. Johnson m. Mary Quimby
Generation 8. Rosina E. Johnson m. William H. Shepard
Generation 9. Frederick Johnson Shepard m. Annie Elizabeth Bartlett
Generation 10. Alan Bartlett Shepard m. Pauline Renza Emerson
Generation 11. Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr.

The Shepard Lineage:

Generation 1. John Shepard, born in Yorkshire, England; married Eleanor Glass of Scotland. They came to America in 1690.

Generation 2. John Shepard born about 1700, died in 1765 in Canterbury, New Hampshire; married Eleanor Ellison.

Generation 3. Jacob Shepard, born about 1751 in Canterbury, New Hampshire, died 13 August 1830 in Holderness, New Hampshire; married in 1774 to Jane Blair of Londonderry.

Generation 4. William Blair Shepard, born 29 July 1779, Holderness, New Hampshire, died 31 January 1867 in Londonderry, New Hampshire; married to Lucy Hart Beck, born 15 January 1782, died on 7 February 1862 in Londonderry, New Hampshire

Generation 5. William Henry Shepard, born 18 May 1816, Holderness, New Hampshire, died 10 April 1893 in Derry, New Hampshire; married to Rosina E. Johnson, born 31 December 1817 in Springfield, New Hampshire, died 29 March 1886 in Derry.

Generation 6. Frederick Johnson Shepard, born 16 August 1851, Framingham, Massachusetts, died 13 April 1931, Derry, New Hampshire; married to Annie Elizabeth Bartlett, born 18 February 1861 in Nottingham, New Hampshire, died 4 December 1944 in Boston, Massachusetts

Generation 7. Alan Bartlett Shepard, born 9 September 1891, Derry, New Hampshire; married 30 June 1921 in Derry to Pauline Renza Emerson, born 5 September 1900 in Mobile, Alabama.

Generation 8. Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr., born 18 November 1923, Derry, New Hampshire, died on 21 July 1998 in Monterey, California; married to Louise Brewer, died on 25 August 1998.


1. Laura, born 1947
2. Juliana, born 1951
3. Alice, born 1951 (not twins, but a niece of Louise’s, raised as their own daughter)

For the truly curious:

Another blog post about the Shepard family plot at the Forest Hills Cemetery in Derry, New Hampshire:

“Spacetown, USA Parade Welcomed Home Alan Shepard”, Nashua Telegraph, published Monday, July 23, 2007

“Nutfield Rambles” by Richard Holmes, Peter E. Randall Publisher, 2007


To Cite/Link to this blog post:  Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Astronaut Alan Shepard, of Derry, New Hampshire", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 9, 2009, ( accessed [access date]) 

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ballad of Cassandra Southwick

“Ballad of Cassandra Southwick”
Great American Local Poem Genealogy Challenge

There are lots of interesting characters in New England, like Cassandra, and many have had their stories made into poems. Longfellow tangled the story of another ancestor, Myles Standish, in his famous courtship poem, and the story of Paul Revere was one of his most famous, and most inaccurate, poems. In this poem, John Greenleaf Whittier got the story more or less correct, but he names the heroine after her mother instead of using her own name, “Provided.” This could possibly be because of Cassandra’s exotic sounding name, so different from all the other Salem Sarahs, Patiences, and Rebeccas. I’ve long enjoyed this poem because of its imagery, but also because of its historical mistakes.

Cassandra Southwick was a Quaker, and she, her husband Lawrence and a son, Josiah, were imprisoned for their religious beliefs in 1658. Two of their children, Provided and Daniel, were sentenced to be sold as slaves in Barbados in 1659 for the unpaid fines of their parents. Instead, the entire family went into refuge at Shelter Island together, where the parents died of exposure in 1660. The true story is certainly tragic, and worthy of an epic poem.

In the poem, Whittier names the little girl “Cassandra” (her mother’s name) and provides the dramatic story of the sea captains refusing to carry the little Quaker maiden into hard slavery. This part of the story has never been proven true, but it makes heroes out of New England’s gruff sea captains. There were plenty of sea captains in the family tree, and these men remain unnamed in the poem, but still worthy of becoming champions. The intolerance of the Puritan magistrates was not just a literary device, Whittier himself was a Quaker and he was very aware of his ancestors’ persecution.

The Southwick Family:

Lawrence Southwick, born 1594 in Tetnal, Staffordshire, England, died 10 May 1660 at Shelter Island, New York; married 25 January 1623 at Kingswinford, Staffordshire, England to Cassandra Burnell, daughter of Humphrey Burnell, born about 1596 in Lancashire, England and died 1660 at Shelter Island.


1. John, born 6 March 1624/5 in Kingswinford, England, died 25 Oct. 1672; married first Sarah Tidd, married second Hannah Flint, married third Sarah Burnett. John and Hannah are my ancestors, through his son John Southwick who married Hannah Follet.

2. Mary Southwick, born 1630; married first Henry Trask, married second William Nichols

3. Josiah Southwick, born 1632; married in 1658 to Mary Boyce, daughter of Joseph Boyce

4. Provided, born 1635, died 1640

5. Daniel Southwick, born 1637; married Esther Boyce

6. Provided Southwick, born 6 December 1641 in Salem, died 4 December 1727 in Salem; married 30 December 1662, Salem, to Samuel Gaskill, son of Edward Gaskill, born 7 June 1639 in Salem, died 6 October 1720 in Salem. She is the protagonist of the poem.

7. Deborah Southwick, born 1634


The Ballad of Cassandra Southwick

by John Greenleaf Whittier

To the God of all sure mercies let my blessing rise to-day,
From the scoffer and the cruel He hath plucked the spoil away;
Yea, He who cooled the furnace around the faithful three,
And tamed the Chaldean lions, hath set His handmaid free!

Last night I saw the sunset melt through my prison bars,
Last night across my damp earth-floor fell the pale gleam of stars;
In the coldness and the darkness all through the long night-time,
My grated casement whitened with autumn's early rime.

Alone, in that dark sorrow, hour after hour crept by;
Star after star looked palely in and sank adown the sky;
No sound amid night's stillness, save that which seemed to be
The dull and heavy beating of the pulses of the sea;

All night I sat unsleeping, for I knew that on the morrow
The ruler and the cruel priest would mock me in my sorrow,
Dragged to their place of market, and bargained for and sold,
Like a lamb before the shambles, like a heifer from the fold!

Oh, the weakness of the flesh was there,--the shrinking and the shame;
And the low voice of the Tempter like whispers to me came:
Why sit'st thou thus forlornly,' the wicked murmur said,
Damp walls they bower of beauty, cold earth they maiden bed?

Where be the smiling faces, and voices soft and sweet,
Seen in thy father's dwelling, heard in the pleasant street?
Where be the youths who glances, the summer Sabbath through,
Turned tenderly and timidly unto thy father's pew?

Why sit'st thou here, Cassandra?--Bethink thee with what mirth
Thy happy schoolmates gather around the warm, bright hearth;
How the crimson shadows tremble on foreheads white and fair,
On eyes of merry girlhood, half hid in golden hair.

Not for thee the hearth-fire brightens,
not for thee kind words arespoken,
Not for thee the nuts of Wenham woods by laughing boys are broken;
No first-fruits of the orchard within thy lap are laid,
For thee no flowers of autumn the youthful hunters braid.

O weak, deluded maiden!--by crazy fancies led,
With wild and raving railers an evil path to tread;
To leave a wholesome worship, and teaching pure and sound,
And mate with maniac women, loose-haired and sackcloth bound,--

'Mad scoffers of the priesthood, who mock at things divine,
Who rail against the pulpit, and holy bread and wine;
Sore from their cart-tail scourgings, and from the pillory lame,
Rejoicing in their wretchedness, and glorying in their shame.

And what a fate awaits thee!--a sadly toiling slave,
Dragging the slowly lengthening chain of bondage to the grave!
Think of they woman's nature, subdued in hopeless thrall,
The easy prey of any, the scoff and scorn of all!'

Oh, ever as the Tempter spoke, and feeble Nature's fears
Wrung drop by drop the scalding flow of unavailing tears,
I wrestled down the evil thoughts, and strove in silent prayer,
To feel, O Helper of the weak! that Thou indeed were there!

I thought of Paul and Silas, within Philippi's cell,
And how from Peter's sleeping limbs the prison shackles fell,
Till I seemed to hear the trailing of an angel's robe of white,
And to feel a blessed presence invisible to sight.

Bless the Lord for all his mercies!--for the peace and love I felt,
Like dew of Hermon's holy hill, upon my spirit melt;
When 'Get behind me, Satan!' was the language of my heart,
And I felt the Evil Tempter with all his doubts depart.

Slow broke the gray cold morning; again the sunshine fell,
Flecked with the shade of bar and grate within my lonely cell;
The hoar-frost melted on the wall, and upward from the street
Came careless laugh and idle word, and tread of passing feet.

At length the heavy bolts fell back, my door was open cast,
And slowly at the sheriff's side, up the long street I passed;
I heard the murmur round me, and felt, but dared not see,
How, from every door and window, the people gazed on me.

And doubt and fear fell on me, shame burned upon my cheek,
Swam earth and sky around me, my trembling limbs grew weak:
'O Lord! support they handmaid; and from her soul cast out
The fear of man, which brings a snare, the weakness and the doubt.'

Then the dreary shadows scattered, like a cloud in morning's breeze,
And a low deep voice within me seemed whispering words like these:
Though thy earth be as the iron, and thy heaven a brazen wall,
Trust still His loving-kindness whose power is over all.'

We paused at length, where at my feet the sunlit waters broke
On glaring reach of shining beach, and shining wall of rock;
The merchant-ships lay idly there, in hard clear lines on high,
Tracing with rope and slender spar their network on the sky.

And there were ancient citizens, cloak-wrapped and grave and cold,
And grim and stout sea-captains with faces bronzed and old,
And on his horse, with Rawson, his cruel clerk at hand,
Sat dark and haughty Endicott, the ruler of the land.

And poisoning with his evil words the ruler's ready ear,
The priest leaned o'er his saddle, with laugh and scoff and jeer;
It stirred my soul, and from my lips the seal of silence broke,
As if through woman's weakness a warning spirit spoke.

I cried, 'The Lord rebuke thee, thou smiter of the meek,
Thou robber of the righteous, thou trampler of the weak!
Go light the dark, cold hearth-stones,--go turn the prison lock
Of the poor hearts thou hast hunted, thou wolf amid the flock!'

Dark lowered the brows of Endicott, and with a deeper red
O'er Rawson's wine-empurpled cheek the flush of anger spread;
Good people,' quoth the white-lipped priest, 'heed not her words so
Her Master speaks within her,--the Devil owns his child!'

But gray heads shook, and young brows knit, the while the sheriff read
That law the wicked rulers against the poor have made,
Who to their house of Rimmon and idol priesthood bring
No bended knee of worship, nor gainful offering.

Then to the stout sea-captains the sheriff turning said,--
'Which of ye, worthy seamen, will take this Quaker maid?
In the Isle of fair Barbadoes, or on Virginia's shore,
You may hold her at a higher price than Indian girl or Moor.'

Grim and silent stood the captains; and when again he cried,
Speak out, my worth seamen!'--no voice, no sign replied;
But I felt a hard hand press my own, and kind words met my ear,--
God bless thee, and preserve thee, my gentle girl and dear!'

A weight seemed lifted from my heart, a pitying friend was nigh,--
I felt it in his hard, rough hand, and saw it in his eye;
And when again the sheriff spoke, that voice, so kind to me,
Growled back its stormy answer like the roaring of the sea,--

Pile my ship with bars of silver, pack with coins of Spanish gold,
From keel-piece up to deck-plank, the roomage of her hold,
By the living God who made me!--I would sooner in your bay
Sink ship and crew and cargo, than bear this child away!'

Well answered, worthy captain, shame on their cruel laws!'
Ran through the crowd in murmurs loud the people's just applause.
'Like the herdsman of Tekoa, in Israel of old,
Shall we see the poor and righteous again for silver sold?'

I looked on haughty Endicott; with weapon half-way drawn,
Swept round the throng his lion glare of bitter hate and scorn;
Fiercely he drew his bridle-rein, and turned in silence back,
And sneering priest and baffled clerk rode murmuring in his track.

Hard after them the sheriff looked, in bitterness of soul;
Thrice smote his staff upon the ground, and crushed his parchment roll.
'Good friends,' he said, 'since both have fled, the ruler and the
Judge ye, if from their further work I be not well released.'

Loud was the cheer which, full and clear, swept round the silent bay,
As, with kind words and kinder looks, he bade me go my way;
For He who turns the courses of the streamlet of the glen,
And the river of great waters, had turned the hearts of men.

Oh, at that hour the very earth seemed changed beneath my eye,
A holier wonder round me rose the blue walls of the sky,
A lovelier light on rock and hill and stream and woodland lay,
And softer lapsed on sunnier sands the waters of the bay.

Thanksgiving to the Lord of life! to Him all praises be,
Who from the hands of evil men hath set his handmaid free;
All praise to Him before whose power the mighty are afraid,
Who takes the crafty in the snare which for the poor is laid!

Sin, O my soul, rejoicingly, on evening's twilight calm
Uplift the loud thanksgiving, pour forth the grateful psalm;
Let all dear hearts with me rejoice, as did the saints of old,
When of the Lord's good angel the rescued Peter told.

And weep and howl, ye evil priests and mighty men of wrong,
The Lord shall smite the proud, and lay His hand upon the strong.
Woe to the wicked rulers in His avenging hour!
Woe to the wolves who seek the flocks to raven and devour!

But let the humble ones arise, the poor in heart be glad,
And let the mourning ones again with robes of praise be clad.
For He who cooled the furnace, and smoothed the stormy wave,
And tamed the Chaldean lions, is mighty still to save!


Genealogy of the Descendants of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick of Salem, Massachusetts,  by James Moore Caller and Maria A. Ober, Salem, Massachusetts: J. H. Choate & Co. Printers, 1881

Salem, Massachusetts Vital Records

The Literary Emporium,  New York: J. K. Wellman, 1845, Volume II, pages 65 – 68

Genealogy of the Descendants of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick of Salem, Massachusetts,  by James M. Caller and M. A. Ober, Salem, Massachusetts: J. H. Choate & Co., Printers, 1881


Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo